Eskom has a contractual obligation to meet despite their challenges, they will give us the power we paid for, says Energy Minister Mathew Nkhuwa.

In a ministerial statement, Friday, Nkhuwa said South Africa did not have an energy crisis at the time Eskom signed a contract with Zesco.

“By the time we were signing the agreement, this situation was not the way it is today but we shall continue engaging them because they have got the money and there is a contractual obligation that we must exhaust the money that we paid them for receiving this electricity. What I said is that we paid for that power and they are supposed to supply us that power, even yesterday, they did manage to supply us 100MW so they will supply that power,” Nkhuwa said in response to Chienge FDD member of parliament Given Katuta who asked whether Zambia would get the power that was paid for considering challenges which Eskom was currently facing.

He explained how government planned to resolve the energy crisis going forward.

“Madam Speaker, I now wish to inform the House on the electricity situation in Zambia. I highlighted that seasonal rainfall forecasts experienced for the 2018/2019 season pose a hydrological risk to the generation of electricity in our country. The Kariba Dam is designed to operate between 475.5m and 488.5m above sea level for the hydro power generation. However, during the year, water level in the dam continued receding, dropping to 476.93m above sea level. As at 10th December 2019, water levels picked up by 5cm as at 11 December 2019. The rise is attributed to local rains that were experienced in the lower Kariba catchment area, the water lever in the dam is now at 1.48m above the minimum operating level. This translates to 10 per cent usable water for power generation,” he said.

“So these are some of the plans that are in place and obviously Maamba Collieries is supposed to boost up their operations, they are supposed to put two more generators of 150MW each and that will come to 300MW and then it will be a total of 600MW going forward. And obviously, we have IDC which has tendered out 120MW of solar energy and then Zesco Limited is putting up 500MW on the Kariba Basin and the Kafue Basin to make sure that we have got a power mix. You may wish to know that we can only inject an amount of 700MW of solar energy into our grid or indeed renewable energy such as wind and solar because that’s all our grid can take and this study was undertaken by experts. So we are looking at other measures, in fact, last time I stood here, Madam Speaker, I talked about the geothermal power plant which will be coming up. People have been on that project for over 10 years now, which is in Bweengwa Southern Province. So we are looking at every other source of electricity and where possible, we will make sure that we tap into the power.”

And Nkhuwa aid lack of cost reflective tariffs was discouraging investors from funding the energy sector.

“The only constraint that we have had is the tariffs. Our tariffs, Madam Speaker, are not cost reflective and this is what is causing us the agony of not getting investors to come and invest into power generation and power transmission. As soon as we work on the tariffs, then I think that we will attract more investors into Zambia to come and invest into the electricity sector,” said Nkhuwa.